Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Adults

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

ADHD in Adults: Diagnosis, Treatment

Adult ADHD Symptoms

While inattention and hyperactivity are the cardinal symptoms of ADHD, a number of other symptoms are contained within the diagnostic criteria for this condition and are typical for those with ADHD.

Symptoms related to inattention include trouble paying attention in school or work, the appearance of not listening, failing to complete assigned tasks, avoidance of activities that require sustained focus, losing things, and being easily distracted. Symptoms related to hyperactivity include restlessness, fidgeting, interrupting, frequent talking, intrusiveness, trouble paying attention, and trying to do multiple things at once.

Quick GuideADHD in Adults: Signs, Cause, and Management

ADHD in Adults: Signs, Cause, and Management

Adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) facts

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a form of behavioral illness that results in symptoms of distractibility, impulsivity, and/or hyperactivity.
  • While there is no one cause for ADHD, there are biological and social risk factors that can increase the probability that an individual will develop the condition.
  • ADHD affects from 2%-6% of adults, afflicting men and women in equal numbers.
  • Adults with ADHD may exhibit little to no hyperactivity, but for those who do, the symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention might be very similar symptoms in children and teens.
  • There are three types of ADHD: predominately inattentive presentation, predominately hyperactive/impulsive presentation, and the combined (inattentive, hyperactive/impulsive) presentation.
  • To evaluate an individual for ADHD, a health-care provider will ask about the presence of medical conditions and either perform or refer for a physical examination. Lab tests are done and people are screened for ADHD and for other mental-health problems.
  • Psychological treatments for ADHD in adults include education about the disorder, being part of an ADHD support group, and training on a variety of skills.
  • Adults with ADHD are frequently prescribed long-acting stimulant medication and may also benefit from nonstimulant medication.
  • Home remedies like dietary restrictions and vitamin supplements for ADHD in adults have few studies of their effectiveness.
  • The prognosis for people with ADHD is usually influenced by symptom severity, the person's level of intelligence, the presence of family issues, and whether or not he or she has other mental-health conditions.

What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, often called ADHD or ADD, is a behavioral condition that is characterized by symptoms of distractibility, impulsivity, and/or hyperactivity. This disorder often has a significantly negative effect on a man's or woman's ability to make and keep relationships, as well as on their ability to perform well at work or in their community.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/8/2016

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